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Photo Contest Insider Blog

World Press Photo of the Year Winner

February 10, 2012



Samuel Aranda, Spain, for The New York Times. A woman holds a wounded relative during protests against president Saleh, Sanaa, Yemen, 15 October 2011

Comments on the winning photo by the jury

Koyo Kouoh

“It is a photo that speaks for the entire region. It stands for Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, for all that happened in the Arab Spring. But it shows a private, intimate side of what went on. And it shows the role that women played, not only as care-givers, but as active people in the movement.”


Nina Berman

“In the Western media, we seldom see veiled women in this way, at such an intimate moment. It is as if all of the events of the Arab Spring resulted in this single moment — in moments like this.”



Aidan Sullivan

“The winning photo shows a poignant, compassionate moment, the human consequence of an enormous event, an event that is still going on. We might never know who this woman is, cradling an injured relative, but together they become a living image of the courage of ordinary people that helped create an important chapter in the history of the Middle East.”


Manoocher Deghati

“The photo is the result of a very human moment, but it also reminds us of something important, that women played a crucial part in this revolution. It is easy to portray the aggressiveness of situations like these. This image shows the tenderness that can exist within all the aggression. The violence is still there, but it shows another side.”


Now in its 55th year, the annual World Press Photo Contest is universally recognized as the world’s leading international contest for photojournalists, setting the standard for the profession. The judging is conducted at the World Press Photo office, where all entries are presented anonymously to the jury, who discusses and debates their merits over a period of two weeks. The jury operates independently, and a secretary without voting rights safeguards a fair procedure.


The jury gave prizes in nine themed categories to 57 photographers of 24 nationalities from: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA.


The contest draws entries by professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers from across the world, with 5,247 photographers from 124 countries participating this year with 101,254 pictures submitted by the mid-January deadline.


2012 Photo Contest Jury

A group of 19 internationally recognized professionals in the field of photojournalism and documentary photography have convened in Amsterdam from 28 January until 9 February 2012 to judge the entries.



Aidan Sullivan, UK, vice president of photo assignments for Getty Images



  • Monica Allende, Spain, photo editor The Sunday Times Magazine
  • Koji Aoki, Japan, chief photographer Aflo Sport / Aflo Dite and president Aflo Co., Ltd.
  • Patrick Baz, Lebanon/France, photo manager AFP for Middle East
  • Nicole Becker, Germany, senior photo editor sport DPA
  • Al Bello, USA, chief photographer sport Getty Images for North America
  • Daniel Beltrá, Spain, conservation photographer
  • Nina Berman, USA, photographer Noor
  • Pablo Corral Vega, Ecuador, director Nuestramirada.org
  • Manoocher Deghati, France/Iran, regional photo manager AP for Middle East
  • Renata Ferri, Italy, photo editor Io Donna – Corriere della Sera
  • W.M. Hunt, USA, strategist at Dancing B
  • Koyo Kouoh, Cameroon, founder and artistic director Raw Material Company
  • Dana Lixenberg, the Netherlands, photographer
  • Andrei Polikanov, Russia, director of photography Russian Reporter magazine
  • Steve Pyke, UK, artist and photographer
  • Joel Sartore, USA, contributing photographer National Geographic magazine
  • Sophie Stafford, UK, editor BBC Wildlife Magazine
  • Ami Vitale, USA, photographer and filmmaker Panos Pictures/ Ripple Effect Images



  • Daphné Anglès, France/USA, European photo assignments editor The New York Times
  • Stephen Mayes, UK, managing director VII Photo Agency


Special Mention

Following the judging of the contest, the 2012 jury decided to give a Special Mention to an image of a Libyan National Transition Council fighter pulling Muammar Gaddafi on to a military vehicle. The still image was taken from a video shot in Sirte, Libya, 20 October 2011.


Chair of the jury Aidan Sullivan commented: “The photo captures an historic moment, an image of a dictator and his demise that we otherwise would not have seen, had it not been photographed by a member of the public.”


Jury member Renata Ferri said: “This was an important document for posterity, for transparency, and to understand the dynamics of how Gaddafi came to his end.”


The jury considers a visual document for a Special Mention when it has played an essential role in the news reporting of the year worldwide and could not have been made by a professional photographer.


To view other winners, click here


Awards Days and 2012 Exhibition

Samuel Aranda, the photographer of the World Press Photo of the Year 2011, will receive the award during an awards ceremony in Amsterdam on Saturday, 21 April 2012. The award also carries a cash prize of €10,000. In addition, Canon will donate a Canon EOS Digital SLR Camera and lens kit to Aranda.


The awards ceremony is preceded by a two-day program of lectures, discussions and screenings of photography. The exhibition with the award-winning images will be open to the public at the Oude Kerk, Oudekerksplein in Amsterdam on Friday, 20 April 2012. The exhibition in Amsterdam is sponsored by Delta Lloyd and will be on show until 17 June.


At the same, time a worldwide tour of the exhibition will be launched. With a record number of 105 venues in 45 countries for the World Press Photo 11 exhibition last year, our exhibition program has established itself as the most popular and wide-ranging traveling photo event in the world. With the yearbook distributed internationally in seven languages, the winning images will reach a worldwide audience of millions in the course of the year.


2012 Multimedia Contest

The winners of the second Multimedia Contest will be announced online on 15 March 2012.

The judges will convene in Amsterdam at the beginning of March. The 2012 Multimedia Contest jury is chaired by director Vincent Laforet, France/USA.


For more information on the 2012 Multimedia Contest, please visit: .


About World Press Photo

World Press Photo is committed to supporting and advancing high standards in photojournalism and documentary photography worldwide. We strive to generate wide public interest in and appreciation for the work of photographers and for the free exchange of information. Our activities include organizing annual contests in visual journalism, exhibitions, and in World Press Photo Academy, the stimulation of photojournalism through educational programs, and creating greater visibility for press photography through a variety of publications. World Press Photo is run as an independent, non-profit organization with its office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where World Press Photo was founded in 1955.


World Press Photo receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and is sponsored worldwide by Canon.